‘Predatory’ Buyers Targeting Milwaukee’s Black Neighborhoods

Out-of-state investors now own almost a quarter of rental housing in majority Black wards, new research finds.

1 minute read

February 7, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Milwaukee, Wisconsin skyline with large old homes in the foreground

Alena Mozhjer / Milwaukee homes and skyline

A new report from the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education at Marquette University Law School suggests that real estate investors are targeting predominantly Black Milwaukee neighborhoods, buying up homes, then renting them out. According to an article by PrincessSafiya Byers in Urban Milwaukee, report author John D. Johnson  “found that out-of-state landlords now own 23.4% of rental houses in majority Black wards, an 8.7 percentage point leap since 2018. Yet from 2018 through mid-2022, the number of out-of-state-owned houses in majority white neighborhoods fell by nearly 100, the report said.”

This is likely having a detrimental impact on the quality of housing and landlord-tenant relations. “A series of reports produced in the last few years associate investor-owned rental properties with poorer maintenance, higher health risks and higher eviction rates when compared to those with homeowners and local landlords.”

Local housing organizations say the city needs more owner-occupied housing, assistance programs for renters who want to buy homes, and co-ops and land trusts that keep ownership in the community and help families build generational wealth.

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